Report: Ian Desmond turned down contract extension worth about $90 million over the winter

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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond turned down a hefty multi-year contract extension over the winter. Heyman’s sources estimate the extension was at least six years in length and between $80 to $90 million in value. The two sides eventually agreed on a two-year, $17.5 million deal in January to avoid arbitration.

Desmond, 28, has become one of the league’s best shortstops. Over the last two seasons, he has hit at least 20 home runs and stolen 20 bases while posting an aggregate .812 OPS. According to FanGraphs, he has actually been the most valuable shortstop in baseball since the start of the 2012 season, with an even 10.0 WAR. Baseball Reference is a bit less kind, pegging him as third-best with 7.1 WAR, with the discrepancy occurring mostly due to defensive metrics. Either way, he has turned into quite a valuable player.

While it will be nice for the Nationals to lock up a key player at a key position, they’ll eventually have to do the same with Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Jordan Zimmermann. The Nationals currently have a $129.5 million payroll according to Cot’s Contracts, and already have $84 million committed for the 2015 season.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).